Top Questions Answered for Superhero Pets Donating Blood

Would you consider having your dog or cat join our blood donor program to help save another pet’s life? If your answer is yes, read on:

Just like in human medicine, blood and plasma products are a lifesaving resource for pet patients who are critically ill or injured. Unfortunately, blood can be hard to come by in an emergency—when every minute counts. 

That’s why Guardian Veterinary Specialists has an onsite blood bank program. This local, all-volunteer initiative aims to ensure that an ample supply of blood is always available for pets in need. Our inventory of blood and plasma products is donated by pets just like yours.

The donation process is simple and safe. And our donors are pampered with lots of affection and treats! Here’s an FAQ of the process and the top questions pet owners have answered.

Blood Bank FAQ's

We wait a minimum of 8 weeks in between donations.

For cats, the standard is 50 mL of blood. This is equivalent to 1.8 fluid oz. (about the size of a small perfume bottle)

For dogs, we collect a certain amount of blood-based on their weight. For medium-sized dogs, we typically collect about 250mL. For large and giant breed dogs, the donation ranges from 450-750 mL.

We strive to use zero to minimal sedation based on the temperament of the donor. When it comes to sedation, we strive to follow the “less is more approach”.  If needed, the type of sedation we use is very mild and safe and is quickly metabolized so the donors are able to go home soon after the procedure.

Absolutely! When your pet arrives at Guardian to help save another life, a member of our blood bank team will greet you and begin the procedure immediately. Your pet will never be left alone, and we always do everything we can to make the visits as stress-free as possible. During the procedure, your pet’s vitals will be monitored closely by our criticalist and a licensed veterinary technician. Your pet will be safely held throughout the procedure by our trained assistant. After your pet donates, we feed them a good meal and administer IV fluids to help them feel their best after their donation.

We start by shaving a small area on their neck in order to create clear access to their jugular vein. The jugular vein is the largest accessible vein on your pet’s body, making it the most ideal site to collect blood from. This will ensure a quick and easy donation. Don’t worry, your pet will be wearing a new GVS Superhero bandana to cover the shaved area on their neck!

Our donor program offers several perks! You will receive an official certificate, recognizing your pet as a life-saving blood donor. Additionally, you will receive a “swag bag” when your pet donates. The bag will include a gift certificate to, a variety of GVS Superhero branded items (for both you and your pet), as well as 10% off all of our veterinary services.

To qualify as a donor, your pet cannot have any pre-existing health complications or conditions. Your pet also cannot be on any medications, however, some thyroid medications and occasional antihistamines are typically ok.

To ensure your pet is 100% safe to donate, we ask that they receive year-round heartworm/ flea and tick prevention. In the event that your pet only receives prevention for part of the year, let our blood bank team know and we can provide the necessary preventatives to qualify them as a donor.

As long as your pet has been treated by a veterinarian for their tick-borne illness, they can still qualify as a donor! During our screening process, we will do bloodwork to confirm that your pet’s illness has been properly treated and is no longer an active concern.

Absolutely! Our blood bank team strives to show you the direct impact your pet’s donation has made. With permission from the client, we can send pictures and updates of the animal that received your pet’s blood. This way, you can see with your own eyes how life-saving your donation truly was. With permission from both clients, we may even showcase your pet’s story on our social media!

Typically, most diets will not affect your dog’s eligibility as a donor. However, your pet cannot be on a raw diet. Raw diets present a higher risk of your pet contracting blood parasites. If your pet is on a raw diet, they may still qualify as a donor depending on the brand and origin of the food. Please be sure to make our blood bank team aware of any food allergies as well. While allergies will not disqualify them as a donor, we must be aware of them as we will be feeding your pet a meal after they donate. 

As mentioned above, we must wait for a minimum of 8 weeks between donations. Typically, we will ask that our donors be brought in about 4-6 times a year to donate. In the event of an emergency, you may expect us to call more often than this throughout the year. You are under no obligation however to donate more times than you’re comfortable with or able to.

Blood donation is an extremely low-risk procedure. The only potential risk could be within the sedation process. Just like humans, pets can have bad reactions to higher doses of sedation in rare cases. This risk is extremely low for our donors, as we typically use very little sedation or no sedation at all. Aside from this, your pet may have minor swelling or bruising at the collection site. This should not cause your pet any discomfort and will subside within a few days following the procedure.

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